3D Pancakes Anyone?

This $8+ billion dollar industry has come a long way from printing toy rabbits in the late 1980s. Now 3D printers have the technology to print working parts for machines, injection molds, biological implants, apparel, functional buildings and yes… even pancakes.
Townsend’s Terry Bourgeois witnessed the pancake “printing” live at this year’s PLASTEC East event in New York, where the pancake “bot”,  3D printed car and prosthetic hand were among the main attractions.  “The one common thread prevalent among all I spoke to is their opinion that 3D printing is the most rapidly growing concept in the manufacturing industry and the sky is the limit as to where it can/will go.  This industry is growing at a breakneck pace, with an average CAGR of over 30% since 2010.   We could be seeing global market value cresting the $20 billion dollar mark by 2020.”

Rapid prototypers were present in large numbers, as were contract manufacturers and machinery/service companies.  Machines ranged from the low-end desktop printers targeted to the hobby enthusiasts and techno geeks to the industrial 3D printers that use complicated algorithms and multiple inputs to make extremely precise parts in exact duplication.

Polymers represent roughly 38% of the 3D printing materials market, with the remainder served by metals (28%) and ceramic/other materials (34%).   Many polymer materials can be used depending on the product desired and 3D process used and photopolymers (proprietary liquid mixtures of oligomer, monomer, and polymer base with a photo-initiator) hold the largest share of plastics used, followed by ABS, Nylon and PMMA.  All of these materials were represented at the event, showcased in applications ranging from the simplest of toys to complex aerospace and medical components.  
According to Mercedes Riley - Townsend Analyst, “the potential for plastics in 3D printing is enormous, especially in industries like medical and automotive, where innovation is racing to meet tomorrows challenges.   Of course 3D printing is extremely beneficial for prototyping, and in low volume, complex, customized batches but it’s also proving to be successful as a medium scale production benefits bridge to supplement large scale manufacturing.  

From a circular perspective there is inherently less waste in the 3D product value chain.  Just think about it… eventually, equipment costs will reach a level where 3D printing can solve the huge problem of warehousing legacy parts in automotive and other industries.”

3D Printing is a typical component of Townsend’s popular “Plastics Deep-Dive” training series.  Townsend offers an array of training courses on topics ranging from energy & feedstocks to end-use applications.  For more information contact Barb Mitchell at +1-281-582-0473 or [email protected] .
For more information on Townsend’s 3D Printing knowledge base, including the 3DP Users Database, contact [email protected] .

For more information on Townsend's next "3D Printing - Market Update" webinar, contact Mercedes Riley at +1-281-873-8733 or [email protected] .